Most diplomatic
Bust honors man behind ‘ Wallenberg passports

The Gazette
Friday, November, 24 1996
Irwin Block

When sculptor Paul Lancz was hiding out in Budapest in 1944 during the dark days of world War, news that a Swedish diplomat was handing out safe passage documents to imperiled Jews spread like wildfire. Lancz, 76, avoided deportation to the Nazi death camps at least in part because of diplomat Raoul Wallenberg’s courageous initiative. He and thousands of other Hungarians survived and never forgot Wallenberg’s courage. His "selflessness, courage, conviction and nobility " in rescuing threatened people are reflected in Lancz’s bronze bust of Wallenberg unveiled yesterday in the garden of Christ church Cathedral. " In so doing, he managed to save the lives of tens of thousands," Lancz said yesterday, recalling how, through his own stealth and the " Wallenberg Passport," he avoided deportation and death." Everybody heard about it, every single Jew in Budapest was trying to get those papers, a certificate saying we were Swedish citizens, " Lancz said in the basement of the Outremont house he has lived in since arriving here in 1957. " Wallenberg got 1,500 certificates signed by the King of Sweden, but he used that to make more certificates and - in many ways succeeded." :Lancz and his three brothers, but not his sister, survived the war. Seventy per cent of his extended family, like most Jews in eastern and central Europe perished in nazi concentration camps and crematoria. Lancz saw Wallenberg only a few times, from a distance,but he created the bust from the few photographs that survive of the then 31-year-old Swedish first secretary who was arrested by Soviet troops when they liberated Budapest, possibly on suspicion of being an American spy. " He has stayed in my mind and in my heart for the rest of my life. Wallenberg was imprisoned in several Soviet jails, where he was reported by the Russians to have died in 1947. Many doubts persisted, however, about the exact time and circumstances of his death. There have been several unconfirmed reports that he was still alive after that time. Lancz, however is convinced that Wallenberg did die, as the Russians said, in 1947 as a result of heart problems. The memorial project was initiated by the late Alan Rose, a former executive vice-president of the Canadian Jewish Congress, and supported by real-estate developer Eugene Riesman, chairman of First Quebec Corp. It was financed by other individuals and corporations.